Debbie Lentz shares her thoughts on how businesses can encourage more females into the workforce.
Reading time: 4 minutes.
The gender gap continues to take the headlines. Whilst businesses are doing more to close the gap, there’s undoubtedly much more that can be done to bridge the gap for the future.
With 40% of graduates within logistics being female, we are starting to see a strong movement towards a gender balance in the workplace. However, only 5% of women are placed in senior positions. So is the industry doing enough?
A female within a senior position can influence an organisation’s culture and reputation. In many ways, a diverse workforce is critical to winning the battle on talent and, in today’s competitive environment, is a key differentiator to competitors.
Whilst it’s encouraging to see an increase in female graduates, more needs to be done to improve the gender imbalance.
Improving hiring efforts
Over recent years, the media have played a large part in raising awareness of gender inequality, by highlighting organisations that are not providing a fair playing field for women and men. As a result we’re seeing businesses starting to explore and improve their recruitment processes to hire more female talent.
As long as the work is being produced, employees should not be penalised for trying to have both a career and a family.
HSBC’s recent report into the technology sector revealed that, of those surveyed, 89% cited flexible working as a motivator to be more productive at work. Having a positive work-life balance is crucial for employees’ health and wellbeing, regardless of gender and this balance is particularly hard to achieve for females who are juggling both a successful career and a family.
Flexibility is not as simple as working earlier or finishing work later. It’s about putting your employees’ needs at the forefront – working around schedules, sick children, and school plays. As long as the work is being produced, employees should not be penalised for trying to have both a career and a family.
Developing your existing workforce
Unacknowledged talent is a common cause for gender inequality. Often businesses will seek to recruit their senior talent externally, rather than develop those they already have within their team. A study by Harvard Business Review revealed that, of the 57 female CEOs they interviewed, two-thirds said they didn’t realise they could be CEO until someone else told them.
It’s important that women within your organisation are receiving the right career development to progress. By investing in a stronger internal mentoring and support programme you could spark long-term goals amongst the female employees you already have. Your best female leader could be just a promotion away.
Inspire younger generations
With technological advancements continuing to threaten roles within the workforce, the economy is shifting and businesses need new skills to be able to remain viable in this economy. It is important that organisations seek and obtain a more diverse range of talent.
Tellingly, research has found that companies that reported above-average diversity on their management teams also reported innovation revenue that was 19% higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity.
Employing a diverse talent encourages different perspectives and experiences into an organisation. It’s important to make your employees feel supported and like they are a part of something – a key trait for any organisation to improve its performance.
Educating younger generations is a vital way of improving the gender gap in the future. Businesses can support this by running university programmes or inviting school classes to come and visit the place of work for an educational and motivational school trip. There are also initiatives available such as The Big Bang Fair at the NEC for aspiring young scientists and engineering students.
Building awareness for gender imbalances
One of the biggest challenges to attracting more women into the industry is the poor levels of visibility of the females that are already working in the sector. Often when you attend many conferences, you will find the room is heavily male-dominated.
Women that are already working within the supply chain are crucial players in closing the gender gap. It’s important that employers are encouraging their female employees to have a presence at conferences and events to network, and that employers are even encouraged to speak at these events to increase awareness.
Increasing awareness like this is not only beneficial to the individuals attending the event but also for the company they are representing. This is also a great way for females to share their experiences and inspire individuals into the sector.
Whilst clear improvements are being made to bridge the gender gap, there is still more that can be done to remove the stigma. Organisations should feel empowered to make changes and drive womens’ progress within their industries to finally put an end to gender inequality.
About the author
Debbie Lentz is president of global supply chain at RS Components and the Electrocomponents Group